We have been at this for three years, but so many of our readers either joined us after we started or were in very different union leadership positions then. So, we thought we would pull together what we believe to be the most useful pieces we have posted about bargaining so you can catch up or just refresh.

Legal Overview

No one gets a driver’s license until they show they know the rules of the road and no negotiator should be allowed to belly-up to a bargaining table without knowing its rules. We tried to cover the most important ones in “20+ FLRA Precedents Union Negotiators Must Know.”

Legal Problems

The “covered by” concept is a legal fiction that penalizes both sides of the bargaining table. Check out these two posts for ideas on how to deal with it: “Dubester Criticizes Covered-by Concept” and “Octomom and the Covered-by Bargaining Defense.”

The “de minimis” defense to a bargaining demand is another one of those concepts that creates as much trouble for management practitioners as it does union reps. “De Minimis Doctrine Too Complex Even For ALJ’s” and “Die, De Minimis, Die!” Provide some advice on how to avoid the trap.

Strategy and Tactics

One could write volumes about the moves and counter moves of bargaining. We have not even come close to doing so, but made a decent start with these five pieces of advice “How to Restrict Agency Discretion in Bargaining,” “Important FLRA Scope of Proposal Decision,” “Making New Proposals After Bargaining Begins,” “The Resuscitated ‘Fair and Equitable’ Clause,” and “The Negotiator’s Three Magic Words.”

Compensation Proposals

Compensation Increases Unions Can Bargain—Part 1 and Part 2

Impact, Implementation and Appropriate Arrangement Proposals

It takes a while to develop a sense of how to bargain backwards, which is what this kind of bargaining demands. You have to figure out how to shut down all the negative aspects of a management proposed change without being able to bargain over the change itself.  We pulled together some of our favorite such proposals in “Our Favorite Appropriate Arrangement Proposals #1, #2, and #3.

Bargaining Problems

Negotiability, information access, and plain old unethical behavior by agency negotiators are the three most common problems unions negotiators will face. We covered some thoughts on how to deal with each in the “Bargaining with Jerks” series. #1, #2, and #3.


There are several problems with how the Impasses Panel operates, namely, it is slow, it does not use its full potential power to drive settlements, etc. Perhaps its worst problem is that it favors doing nothing as we pointed out in “FUBAR: The FSIP’s Unicorn.”


If you would like to know even more about how we suggest union reps bargain tap into the keywords in our Topic Index on the right. Happy bargaining!

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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